Category Archives: alzheimer’s

Christmas is harder than I thought it would be

It’s Christmas Eve, and I just got home from the “Wonder of Winter Lights” pageant at my church.  My partner is out tending to other people’s animals – she works as a pet-sitter, so holidays are her busy time.  The house is clean in anticipation of company tomorrow – friends who are also far from family, are too busy to travel, and/or aren’t Christian so don’t have a reason to be with family on a random Tuesday.  My dogs and cats are sacked out, so the house is quiet.

When I first get home, whether from work, shopping, or – as tonight – church, I almost always open the computer and check out what’s been posted on Facebook since I last logged on.  I check my notifications, read my private messages, and look to see if there are any new likes on the page I help administrate.

profile pics

This is just some of the many I have posted to Facebook.

Tonight, for some reason, I scrolled through my old profile pictures – I tend to change my image pretty regularly.  I went back almost 2 years.  Some of them are of me and Jeanne.  Some of them are just me.  Some of them indicate causes (or teams) I support, or show our pets.  And some of them are of Dad.  There are a couple of me with Dad.  Those are the ones that are making me sad tonight.

I didn’t expect to have a hard time today – I got through Thanksgiving without much problem.  As I posted after he died, I had lost him several times over the past few years.  He really hadn’t been with us for Christmas – mentally – for several years.  So this shouldn’t be all that different.  At least, that is what I told myself.

me & dad at bowlingBut something about seeing this picture, taken almost 3 years ago, brought tears to my eyes.  It was taken at the bowling alley where Jeanne and I were on a league.  Dad was visiting for a week or so while mom was on a trip.  This was the year that DC got hit with back-to-back snow storms that delayed my flight up there to bring him home with me.  I was so relieved to have him with me at that point that I wanted to keep him close, even when we went bowling.  He was so cute that night – cheering for everyone on my team, giving us a thumbs up when we did well and a thumbs down when we didn’t.

I have so many happy memories of our times together – I am trying to just think of those and remember the love.  The sadness kicks in when I start thinking about how we won’t have any more chances to make special memories.

Even after the dementia got bad, up until the very end, he would smile every time he saw me – tonight, I am missing his smile.

Dad will be in my heart forever

For the last 3 years, I have known my dad was dying.  He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which we all know is incurable and ultimately terminal.  But I had hopes that he would be around for a long time – there are stories of people living with Alzheimer’s for 10+ years.  The thing is, he probably had it for much longer and we never knew.  Or maybe we knew, but didn’t want to face it.

For a long time leading up to the diagnosis, we knew something was wrong.  He would repeat questions or forget appointments or get into fender benders that he should have been able to avoid.  He would get angry for no apparent reason – he was basically a kind, gentle man, so that was very out of character for him.  At first, I chalked it up to his work-a-holic tendencies that left him out of sorts after retirement.  He didn’t have any hobbies, so he didn’t know what to do with himself when he wasn’t working a full-time job.  But then it became clear that it was more than that.

We originally referred to it as “dementia” – which covers a whole host of disorders and can be caused by a wide variety of problems, ranging from vitamin deficiency to strokes to the dreaded Alzheimer’s.  I think the hope was that he would get better.  But he just kept getting worse.  And then the doctor said what we had all been doing our best to deny.

Mom did her best to manage with him at home, but with my brother and me each about 800-900 miles away, she had a hard time being the sole care-giver.  About 6 months after the official diagnosis, the family decided that it would be best if Dad moved into assisted living.  That was almost exactly 2 years ago.  He moved in on November 1st, 2010.  On November 4th, he fell and broke his hip. Surgery was necessary, but as we had heard, the anesthesia accelerated the dementia, and he never really got back on his feet.

His first assisted living arrangement was near me.  This eased the responsibility on Mom, but she had to travel by plane to see him – something she did about once a month for a year.  I enjoyed being able to see him frequently, though.  I would often stop by on my way home from work, sometimes just to say hi and check on him, others to actually have dinner with him and visit for a while.

At the end of that first year, she decided that she wanted him back closer to her – a decision that was very hard for me to accept, but ultimately was the right one, since his new residence was in a facility that could better care for him as his medical needs grew.  He was there about 4 months when they moved him from the assisted living memory unit to the skilled nursing floor.

I was able to visit him 4 times during the past year.  The first visit was in January – about 2 months after he moved back East.  I was discouraged for the first two days because he didn’t seem to know me, but the last day I was there, he knew exactly who I was – he even introduced me to a staff member by name and as his daughter.  The next time I saw him was in May.  I only had a couple of hours with him – I was on my way to my 30th high school reunion.  Fortunately, he was having a pretty good day that day as well.

In August of this past summer, I was able to go again – this time for several days.  He still lit up when he saw me, recognizing me as someone he knew and loved, but was confused about which family member I was.  I spent time with him during the day, and even took him to the main dining room for a couple of meals.  It was hard to see the decline, but I was glad to have some time to just be with him.

Last month, Mom was scheduled for surgery – she arranged to have it at the hospital closest to Dad and to do her rehab in the same nursing unit.  I took the week off work to be with her – something I am now incredibly glad I did.

I noticed the decline in Dad almost right away.  He was much less able to communicate – rarely talking, mumbling when he did, and dozing off frequently (if he was awake at all).  I arrived on a Saturday and stayed until Friday, seeing Dad each day except Monday, when I was at the hospital with Mom all day.  Most of the time I spent with him was in silence – he was either sleeping or unable to respond to anything I said.  Occasionally I would get a nod or even a slurred yes or no, but that was about it.

At the end of the week, I had to return home – I had a job waiting, and my mother was being cared for by the nursing staff.  My brother’s wife was due to arrive 4 days later to help out when Mom was discharged.  I had plans to fly back for Thanksgiving – which was only 4 weeks away.  When it was time to go, I stopped by Dad’s room to say goodbye, but he was sleeping.  I told him I loved him, that I would be back and to do whatever the nurses told him.

That night, the nursing staff decided he needed to go to the hospital because he was severely dehydrated and needed IV fluids.  He hadn’t eaten much all week, and had had even less to drink.  They kept him overnight, and may have kept him longer to administer more fluid, but Hurricane Sandy was due to hit within a couple of days and Mom was concerned he would get stuck at the hospital.  He was there alone, because she was less than a week out of surgery and couldn’t go with him, so she arranged to get him discharged and brought back to his room.  But we all knew that his condition was of grave concern.  So my brother decided to go out with his wife, and together they decided to fly out a couple of days early to beat the storm.

They got there Sunday, the storm hit Monday, and by Tuesday it was clear that Dad’s time was running out.  He rallied a bit that afternoon, but was unresponsive again the next day. On that Thursday, my brother texted me in the afternoon that Dad was close to passing.  His breathing was very shallow and slow, although his pulse remained strong. The doctor put him on morphine that evening, since he seemed to be in some distress.

Several days went by with little change – on Sunday, my brother and I both commented that we were surprised he was hanging on.  We knew it was just a matter of time, though.  Between him, his wife, and my mother, Dad had someone sitting with him almost all day.  From what they have told me, Dad seemed peaceful – the morphine helped him rest comfortably, so that eased my mind.  On Monday, my brother stayed with him almost all day long – he had to leave the next day, and was hopeful that Dad would pass before he had to leave.  But in his stubborn way, Dad hung on almost 2 more days.

They left the morning of Tuesday, November 6th and Dad passed Wednesday evening.  I know my brother has some guilt over that – he probably has that refrain running through his head. “If only…”  But as his wife has said, Dad was probably waiting for him to leave – he always liked to do things in his own way.  I am just disappointed that I didn’t realize how close the end was when I was there – if only…

The night that Mom called to say dad was gone was one of the worst of my life.  Even though I knew that day would come, and over the 10 days leading up to it, I had been expecting it any day, it still felt like a blow to the gut.  My dad – my hero – was gone.  Really gone.  Not just locked away in his deteriorating mind, but gone from this earth.

I have lost my dad again.  I lost him the day he was diagnosed.  I lost him the day he fell and had to have surgery.  I lost him the day he moved to Delaware.  And I lost him on November 7th at 10:30 at night.  I guess the thing I can hold on to now is that I will never lose him again – he will remain in my heart forever.

 

Stop the world, I want to get off!

Do you ever have those days where you want to hit the pause button on life?  You would like the whole world to just stop spinning for a day, an hour, a minute – just long enough for you to catch your break from the carnival ride you feel your life is on.  These past couple of weeks have felt like a Tilt-a-Whirl – rushing by, filled with endless to-do lists that just keep growing, even as I check items off.

I’ve been teaching, coaching, working part-time at my church, organizing our booth at the Pride Festival again, helping to plan the new minister’s installation ceremony, writing lesson plans for 4 days of a substitute… I’ve been out of town for the past 6 days, which includes 4 class days, because my mother had knee replacement surgery.   So I was with her instead of with my students.  It was the right thing to do, but any teacher knows it is more work to be gone from school than it is to be there.

Oh, yeah – I’m also planning my wedding.  In November.  In Iowa. For the few readers I have who don’t know, since my last post, my partner and I have decided (after almost 19 years) that we actually do want to get married, even though our state and the Federal government don’t recognize it.  The Federal government is getting closer, though. A couple of weeks ago, DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) was declared unconstitutional by a court of appeals, so we are hopeful!

In fact, between that and the fact that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was struck down, we figure it is only a matter of time before we start being eligible for federal protections and privileges.  That is actually one of the factors in our decision to drive to Iowa next month and get married in a state where it is legal.  When the day arrives that the government will treat us the same as any other married couple, we wanted to have the document saying we are in fact married.

I will write more about our decision and our plans in a future post.  But right now, I just want the world to stop and let me off for a while.  I want to stop time – freeze everything and everyone – while I take a little time for myself.  Time to think, time to get caught up on all those things that fall to the bottom of the priority list, time to process my emotions.  They are kind of all over the place right now.

Of course, I am excited about the wedding.  I am happy that Mom’s surgery went well.  I am grateful for my school and the administration that allows me to be with my family when they need me, while having a qualified, former math teacher cover my classes so they don’t get behind.  But I am also scared.  Really scared.

This past week, I was not only visiting Mom and helping her through surgery and moving to rehab.  I was also visiting Dad.  Her surgery was at a hospital about a mile from where Dad is, and she arranged to do her rehab in the same nursing wing of the retirement community where he lives now.  I hadn’t seen Dad since August, and I was a little surprised to realize there has been such a significant decline.  I knew that he would only get worse with time, but it still took me by surprise.

January 2012 – he introduced me to the person who took this photo as his daughter!

When I was there in January, he knew me by name.  When I saw him in August, he called me by his sister’s name, but still lit up when he saw me, recognizing me as someone familiar.  This time, for the short periods when he was actually awake, he didn’t seem to know me at all.  He did put his arm around me and hug me one day, but that afternoon, he was sleeping so soundly in his room that I couldn’t get him to respond to me at all.

The nursing staff tells me that, more and more, he is like that – he sleeps most of the day, and is pretty unresponsive most of the time.  He has lost a great deal of weight, and seems to be slipping away every moment.

I have plans to go back over my Thanksgiving break, but my real fear is that I will need to go back before that.  I know that he would not want to linger – he would hate it if he was aware of his condition.  I know that the man I knew as my father has been gone for a long time.  So I should be OK with whatever happens.  But my inner child, Daddy’s little girl, wants to scream NOOOOOO!  It isn’t fair!  I’m not ready to let him go!

In the meantime, I have to get back to work, teaching, coaching, working at church.  I have a wedding to plan.  I have a life to live.   And he would want me to live it.

Where did the summer go?

This summer has been a busy one.  I took on a part time job at my church, filling in as the office admin when they had an unexpected opening.  Originally, I was just helping out until they found a replacement, but I am going to continue doing part of the job – writing the newsletter, preparing the weekly order of service and announcement bulletin, and monitoring email and voice mail – for a while.  I won’t be able to spend any time in the office, as I did this summer, because of course, I have a full-time job teaching.  In fact, I go back to work this coming week.  We start early here in the South!  But a fellow church member and I have worked out a way to share the responsibilities of the admin position, so it should all work out pretty well.

I did manage to get out of town a couple of times this summer.  For the first time in over 18 years, Jeanne and I went away for more than a weekend without seeing family members.  We usually work our trips around visiting my brother or her sisters, or they involve traveling to a neutral location WITH family members.  This time, we took a road trip that wasn’t to Wisconsin!  We saw some friends for a couple of days and then moved on to explore a new city.  We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast, visited several museums and other tourist attractions, and ate in recommended restaurants.  We were gone a total of 5 nights, but it felt longer.

5 days after getting home, I was re-packed and on my way to the airport for a trip to the east coast to visit my Dad.  I flew into a small regional airport, rented a car, and drove the hour and a half to where he is being cared for.  When we moved him there in November, he was in the secure unit for Alzheimer and dementia patients.  In March, he was moved into the Skilled Nursing unit, where he now lives.  I was able to see him for 4 days, most of which were good days, when he knew me by name.  It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to when he thinks I am someone else – usually one of his sisters, Pat.  The part that hurts is when I have to say goodbye, not knowing when I will get the chance to see him again.

It would take me at least 16-18 hours to drive from my house to Delaware, and the cost of flying just keeps going up, which makes it difficult to travel that way often.  Even flying involves changing planes and the better part of a day each way, so it’s hard to find enough time during the school year.

I definitely noticed a decline in his ability to understand his surroundings as well as to communicate.  But he still looks at the paper – I am not sure he understands what he is reading, though.  One day, he had a folded paper napkin in his pocket.  He took it out, unfolded it, and held it in two hands like a newspaper, turning it over and over like he was turning the pages of the Post.  I guess some habits will stick with him until the end!

For now, he also still smiles at me, letting me know, even if he can’t come up with my name, that I am a familiar face.  One of the activities directors even commented on the fact that he seems happier when I am there.  I certainly was happy to see him!  I even got to watch him “bowl” one day – they set up plastic pins and angle the wheelchairs so that the residents have a half-way decent chance of hitting them with the plastic ball.  Dad seemed to enjoy himself and even clapped for the other residents when they took their turns.

As my school year gets underway and I get busy with the daily tasks of teaching and coaching, I will treasure the memories I made this summer, and look forward to finding time to get back to Delaware.  I would love to see Dad “bowling” again!

While I spent time with Dad each day, I also found time to connect with some friends who were in the area.  I spent about an hour visiting a friend from high school who was vacationing with her family, and had 2 meals with friends from college who arranged to visit their vacation home that weekend, knowing I would be in town.  It was great to catch up with them!  I also made time to attend a Zumba class at a local Curves – I was going to miss both of my weekly classes, so it was good to work in some physical activity.

The last 2 weeks of my summer break from school were mostly spent out of town, which had the drawback of making the summer seem even shorter, but I wouldn’t have missed either trip.  Now to buckle down and get some planning done before the students return on Monday!  I also plan to get back to doing a better job of tracking my food and making progress with Weight Watchers.  The summer has been full of ups and downs in that part of my life and I really want to get back on track.

I had set a goal at the beginning of the summer, and have fallen a little short.  I am not going to beat myself up over that, or sabotage my efforts by giving up, though.  I am going to set a new goal, and do everything I can to reach it.  My next birthday is in about 6 weeks, so my updated goal is to lose 12 pounds by then.  I’ll keep you posted!

I know people mean well…

I know people mean well.  I am sure they want to let me know they care.  But I almost wish they wouldn’t ask how Dad is doing.  I hate not knowing how things are going on a day-to-day basis, and when they ask, it reminds me that I don’t have him close to me anymore.

Since he moved to Delaware 5 months ago, I have seen him only once and spoken to him just a handful of times.  Each time Mom calls me when she is visiting him, she tells him who is on the phone and gives it to him.  He seems to know who I am, but really has a hard time hearing me.  Often, I can’t understand him either.  It was so much easier to have conversations – as nonsensical as they were – when we were in the same place.   So my understanding of how he is doing is pretty much limited to what mom tells me.

About a month ago, Mom told me that Dad was having some issues with pressure sores, and that the residence where he was had to transfer him to the skilled nursing unit there.  The hope was that it was just temporary – until they could treat the sores – but the staff has since determined that he really needs more care than the memory unit could provide, so he has now officially moved into the nursing home part of Cadbury.

From what I understand, the sores are all healed, and he seems to be unperturbed by the move.  It still makes me sad that the disease has progressed to this point, though.  I also get angry at times – wanting to grab hold of him and find a time machine to take us back to a better time.

In a couple of weeks, I am flying to the East Coast for my high school reunion, and will be able to see Dad for a few hours the day I arrive.  I wish I had the time to spend a few days with him.  It is always a gamble as to whether he will be having a good day or a bad one, especially since I will be arriving in the afternoon and he tends to be better in the mornings.  Once school is out, I hope to get back up there (maybe in June) when I can be there for longer.

In the meantime, I thank people for asking about him, let them know he is doing OK, and that I will know more after I get to see him in person.  I hold on to the memories I have, knowing that I was lucky to have him as a dad.  And I let myself grieve, knowing that I am, slowly, losing the most important man in my life.

My visit with Dad

I spent much of the MLK, Jr weekend in Delaware, visiting Dad.  Cadbury is a lovely facility, and the staff seem very caring and capable.

I arrived mid-day on Saturday and stayed through lunch on Monday.  The first 2 days were tough on me – he didn’t seem to know who I was.  He seemed comfortable with me, and a couple of times called me Pat, his sister’s name, so at least I was a familiar face.  It just broke my heart a little that he didn’t recognize me or light up when I would walk in the room.  He was also very tired both days, dozing off frequently, so we had very little active interaction.  I took him out to the main dining room for dinner Saturday and brunch on Sunday, but it was difficult to keep him alert.

By Sunday afternoon, I was convinced that seeing him this way was too hard, and I wasn’t sure I could handle visiting again.  I even spent some time on my own Sunday afternoon and evening, shopping and taking myself out to dinner.

Fortunately, Monday was better!  He knew I was his daughter, called me by name several times, and was awake and engaged the whole morning.  Unfortunately, that made it very difficult to leave.  But I had a plane to catch, so I left promising him I would come back as soon as I could.

Although I can’t visit as often as I did when he was in Memphis, I will try to get there as often as I can afford to (airfare isn’t cheap!) and will cherish the time we do spend together.  Even if he does sleep through it.

A break in the dry spell

I know it has been a while since I have updated this blog.  From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, the days flew by, and before I knew it, the year had rolled over to 2012.  It has been almost 2 months since I have seen Dad, and I miss him a lot.  I have spoken to him a few times – it is really hard for him to hear me on a cell phone, and sometimes it is even hard for me to understand him, especially when Mom calls my cell from her cell.  Really makes the commercial “Can you hear me now?” have a whole new meaning.

The first week Dad was in Delaware, Mom was with him every day.  She has also been to see him just about every week since then, for at least a day or two.  She was there Christmas morning, as well as on his birthday 5 days later.  It isn’t quite the same as being able to stop by every day or so after work, but when she is there, it is for longer visits than I was able to provide.  She tells me that he is doing well – that physical therapy is helping him stand and walk with a walker a bit more – and that he seems to be comfortable with the staff and other residents.  Despite her reassurances, I don’t know exactly how he is.

This weekend, I will find out for myself!  I am flying up Saturday and spending 2 nights there.  The residence has a guest suite that can be reserved, so I will be right on site.  It will be just me & Dad, since Mom is leaving this weekend for a trip with a friend.  I am very excited to see him, see how he is doing, and get a sense of how this place compares to where he was before.  (I was only there overnight when we moved him in November.)

The next few weeks will be busy, but towards the end of January, life will slow down a bit.  I will try to be better about blogging in the coming months, but in the meantime, thanks to all who are following my journey.

Unforgettable

In talking to people and reading stories about Alzheimer’s disease (AD), I am struck by how many times I hear or read that the person with AD “isn’t the person they used to be.”  So often, they are described as having a different personality – angrier, meaner, gentler… more or less than what used to be.

While Dad went through an angry period (it is my understanding that this happens as they are beginning to realize something is wrong but can’t quite put their finger on it), and was even a little bit mean at times (although never towards me), he has returned to the gentle person he always was.  As the disease progresses, I don’t see him as being a different person – he is still my Dad.  He just has a different cognitive level.

While it saddens me that he doesn’t understand the news on TV or that he “reads” the paper by flipping from above the fold to below without really “getting” what he is looking at, I still think of him as the same person.  He was always one of the smartest people I knew.  He still is – just with limited ability to process the present. He still seems concerned that I have gotten a good education, that I have a good job, that I have a car that runs, and that I am doing well.  He still offers to help, whether it is to drive me home or to do something for me while I am gone, and when I do something for him, he still graciously says thank you.

This week is going to be a hard one for me.  While we, as a family, decided to move Dad into assisted living near my house a year ago, my mother, who lives about 900 miles away from me, has decided she wants to move Dad to a location nearer to her.  I have had such a gift this past year, being able to see Dad several times a week, dropping by on my way home from work just to say hi, or spending Friday night having dinner with him and visiting in his room.  But that is about to end.  This weekend, Mom, Dad and I are flying to the East Coast and moving Dad into a new Assisted Living residence.

I am sure this place is nice – and that they will take good care of him – although I have never been there.  Mom wouldn’t settle for anything less.  But having his routine changed is going to be hard on him.  Having my routine changed will be hard on me too.  I don’t know how often I will get to see him – it is hard for me to get away unless school is on a break.  I will miss the way his face lights up when I come to see him – he is always so glad to see me!  For now, he remembers me – my name, my profession, my status as his daughter.  I just hope that whenever I do get to visit him, he will still know me and still light up when I walk in the room.  I’ll miss you, Dad.  I’ll never forget the man who considers me “Unforgettable”.

Planning a sing-a-long with Dad

I read a blog post today on Alzheimer’s Reading Room that brought back fond childhood memories of car trips to the Midwest.  My dad’s family lived in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but we lived in Washington, DC.  We would drive out to see them about once a year.  Mom would load up the car and we would take off after Dad got home from work that day, drive as far as Pennsylvania or Ohio, stop for the night, and get to my Aunt Pat and Uncle Ed’s place in Tomah, WI in time for dinner.

When my brother and I were little, we would ride in the back seat, and to keep us distracted from squabbling (as we were prone to do), Dad would sing.  There were some songs that became family traditions, and one of them was mentioned in that blog post I read – Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon.  I can still hear his wonderfully deep voice in my memory.   Later, when I was old enough to help read the map, I would get to sit up front with Dad and serve as “co-pilot/navigator”.  I would pester him until he would start singing, even though he didn’t need to keep me and my brother apart any more.

The author of the blog writes about his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and that she started singing that song when she saw the full October moon – the Harvest Moon.  I decided that I would find the song, download it to iTunes, play it for Dad and see if he remembered the words!

When I started searching iTunes, it became a challenge to see if I could remember all of the songs we used to sing on those road trips.  I found 4 of them!  I still sing Barnacle Bill the Sailor – at least the chorus, which is all the words I think I ever knew.  (That is because Dad probably must have left out the “saltier” part of the song!)

A third song took me a little longer to find.  I figured out I was spelling Katy/Katie wrong!  “K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy! You’re the only G-G-G-girl that I adore!  K-K-K-Katy, beautiful Katy!  I’l be waiting at the K-K-K-Kitchen door!”

Another song I remember singing was actually Dad’s made-up version of H-A-double R-I-G-A-N.  He would sing “H-O-Gee-ee –A-N, H-O-G-A-N spells Hogan, Hogan.”  Even though they weren’t the original words, the song still helped instill my sense of Irish pride!

So today, when I go see him, I will have 4 songs to play.  Even if he doesn’t remember the words, I hope the music will bring a smile to his face.  It sure did to mine!

 

Not enough time in the day…

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty.  But there are days when I do.  I feel guilty that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I need to and everything I want to.  Including visiting Dad.  I wish I could go see him every day.  For a while, I tried.  But life got in the way, and it has become every other day, every third day, sometimes just once or twice a week.  I know in my head that he is being well-taken care of.  The staff at his Assisted Living residence is wonderful.  They all adore him (of course – everyone does!).  When I do go by, even if it is just for a quick 15 minute visit, he always seems to glad to see me.  I know that he doesn’t really have a sense of how much time has passed, but it breaks my heart when I haven’t been there for a few days and he says “I haven’t seen you in a while”.  In my head, I know he says that even when I was just there the day before, but in my heart, my guilt over how little time I can spend with him sometimes makes me feel like I am not doing my job.

But then I remember that I am grateful for the time I do get to spend with him.  I am grateful that he is here and not 1000 miles away on the East Coast.  I am grateful that I know how important it is for me to get there as often as I do, and I realize that I am doing what I can and should not feel guilty for having other responsibilities as well.  If he was located more than 20 minutes from my house or from my work, it would be so much harder to get to see him, even once or twice a week.  So I give myself an emotional break. I shake off the guilt and let it be OK that I didn’t get there yesterday.  And probably won’t get there tomorrow.  But today, I plan to go have dinner with him and enjoy the time we have.  I am glad I can make the time today.